W3C home > Mailing lists > Public > www-style@w3.org > February 2012

Re: [css3-text] letter-spacing at element boundaries

From: Christoph Päper <christoph.paeper@crissov.de>
Date: Wed, 1 Feb 2012 18:23:39 +0100
Message-Id: <C2BE717D-7E62-4FAB-A851-29F34724B37D@crissov.de>
To: "www-style@w3.org list" <www-style@w3.org>
Alan Stearns:
>> em<em>phatic</em>ally
>> em p  h  a  t  i  c ally

Letter-spacing, like most types of emphasis, is usually used for complete words, so I’m not sure we should optimize for the unusual cases.

> In the examples I've seen (called 'sperren' or 'sperrsatz') neither the
> surrounding word spacing nor surrounding letterspacing is increased.
> In a blackletter quote, only the spacing between the letters in the word is
> increased. The quote marks around the word are set at a normal letterspace
> distance:

I believe “Sperrsatz” was (and is) most popular in German blackletter (Fraktur) and typewriter texts, at least if we only consider European scripts. THerefore we should probably make CSS compatible to it.

The popular and quasi-authoritative Duden dictionary used to include rules for type setting and type writing, nowadays for word processors and email. Sperrsatz is covered today (2006 edition, my translation):

  Punctuation marks are usually letter-spaced, too.
  This usually does not apply to the final stop (dot, period …)
  and quotation marks. Numbers are not letter-spaced either.
  W a r u m ?
  D a r u m !
  D e r   T a g e s a u s s t o ß   b e t r ä g t  10 000  S t ü c k.

(There is a thin space inside the number which is not affected by letter-spacing.)

In the 1961 edition it had this to say:

  a) L i g a t u r e s  when letter-spaced, see [and there it says:] 
     In letter-spaced type, ligatures are not used, except in blackletter type ch, ck and tz.
  b) F o r e n a m e s  in front of letter-spaced surnames have to be letter-spaced, too;
     if the forename appears  a f t e r  the surname (…) it must  n o t  be letter-spaced.
     N u m b e r s  must not be letter-spaced.
  c) In common letter-spaced type , comma, semicolon, colon, question and exclamation marks,
     parentheses have to be letter-spaced, too.
     Period and quotation marks are never letter-spaced.

This doesn’t say anything about inter-word spacing, but typing the examples above in a monospaced font, I intuitively put three spaces between two consecutive letter-spaced words, but only two between a letter-spaced word and a normal spaced number or word.

German Wikipedia mentions more rules as employed by professional typesetters:

  – Spaces before and after letter-spaced text are also letter-spaced,
    punctuation marks, too, except for period and quotation marks. Example:

    Dies ist f a l s c h gesperrt, so ist es  r i c h t i g  gesperrt.

  – Numbers are not letter-spaced.
  – In German blackletter type the mandatory ligatures ch, ck, ſt and tz,
    as well as the letter ß are kept. All other, optional ligatures are
    decomposed and letter-spaced.
  – Letter-spacing is always done with an eighth em. 
    Fully wide spaces would make spaced text runs too wide and
    are only used with typewriters (etc.).

> the document showing the intended result does not increase word spacing:
> http://forums.adobe.com/servlet/JiveServlet/download/1964602-7926/MSWord_Sperren_PDFA-1a.pdf

Huh? It does increase the spacing before and after letter-spaced words.

> In this discussion on how to achieve this effect in CSS, the problem is how
> to remove unwanted extra spacing at the end of the word:

… before a comma that precedes normal spaced text.
Received on Wednesday, 1 February 2012 17:24:16 UTC

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